Friday, August 31, 2012

Plein Air Painting and (Another) Rant

The weather has been awesome this week so I have been outside painting after work and haven't had time to blog. Finally, after a summer where the average temperature seemed to hover around 95 degrees, we have some seasonal temps.

I am sharing a few paintings completed earlier in the week, when a friend and I drove to Putnam county to paint specifically for the 10th Anniversary Exhibition sponsored by the Ohio Plein Air Society. If you're wondering why we had to travel to Putnam County I am wondering right along with you. The rules of this exhibit state that the paintings must be done at specific locations around the state of Ohio. This leaves those of us who live a distance from these locations at a huge disadvantage. The choice was clear: make our displeasure known by not joining in the exhibit or just go with the flow and hope that the next exhibit has fewer rules and regulations. I chose the latter but quite a few artists decided not to enter anything. Let's face it, artists don't like rules. We love our freedoms, we are creative people and we do not like to be restricted! This is especially true when we are told what and where we have to paint. It is very difficult to be inspired to paint when you have to travel to a location you are not familiar with and figure out where interesting things are. I would hazard a guess that the person who organized this event does not understand how inhibiting rules like this can be to an artist.

Plein air painters, especially, are comfortable on their own turf. We want to show our best work and the way to do that is to show the places we have come to love to paint. Some artists live near the water and they excel at creating wonderful paintings of lakes and boats and docks. Others live near rolling hills and they have become experts at creating the atmospheric conditions that showcase their area.

The painters who live near or in the five "designated painting areas" have a distinct advantage in this exhibit and I suspect that this has caused some of the controversy surrounding the event. They are familiar with the area, they can paint many more pieces and choose the best ones. They don't have to spend money on gas and get time off work to travel to other areas. In other words-- they are in their comfort zone. It's difficult to do your best work after traveling and scouting locations in an area you're not familiar with. It's one thing to do it for a paint out, with no pressure. It's an entirely different situation when you must drive to your location, find a good place to paint and produce a quality painting -- all in one day. It's just not that easy for most of us, especially if we have day jobs and children to consider. I usually don't have the time or gas money to travel a distance to set up and paint. There are too many beautiful scenes right in my own backyard and these are vistas I am comfortable with and ones I would love to show the world.

I enjoy being a member of the OPAS organization and the opportunities it has provided me to paint and exhibit my work and I'm hopeful that the next exhibit they sponsor will allow artists to showcase their best work. That work will more than likely be comprised of paintings completed on  their own territory and under more relaxed circumstances.

These two pieces were done on the same day, near Pandora, Ohio and they really demonstrate how weather affects mood and atmosphere. I did the first one in the morning under a gazebo while it rained softly. The second painting was done at the same location but looking in a different direction in the afternoon. What a difference a few hours can make! 


jimmie white said...

Well said (Again).....

Nora Sallows said...

Yeah, I'm a good whiner. Lol